Dec082009

The Points Stood between Me and Her Makeup

Last week I was driving around downtown San Francisco. My wife had one request for me to fulfill on my day away. The task was simply to stop by Saks Fifth Avenue on Union Square and buy some Chanel makeup. I dutifully set off on the task, taking the bus from outside the Marriott Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf and getting off at Union Square. I arrived at Saks at 6:15pm.

The store closed at 6pm last Wednesday night; three weeks before Christmas. I was dismayed.

The next morning I drove around Union Square looking for a place where I could park 30 minutes for under $2.00. After burning $2 in gas I came to the conclusion that I could remove myself from a dangerous driving situation and return home, log on to the web, and buy the Chanel while shopping for points.

All was fine until four days had passed and my wife learned I never made the online order for the Chanel product. She demanded to know why I had a problem ordering her makeup. I confessed. It was the points that stood between me and her makeup. I hadn’t yet researched which hotel program offered the best points earning deal for a hotel web portal shopping bonus.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I have to say that excuse didn’t fly with my wife.

Fortunately, I already had a list of links to major hotel program shopping portals and it only took a few minutes to figure out IHG Priority Club Rewards and Marriott Rewards offered the best value for me with 8 points per $1 in purchases with a Nordstrom’s bonus points offer. Choice Privileges offers 16 points per $1 with Nordstrom’s, but I went with Priority Club.

I must comment on one aspect of the shopping experience. After selecting the item and seeing an $8 shipping charge, I decided to just buy 2 of the item and the purchase would qualify for free shipping. There was no way I could find to change the quantity from 1 to 2 on the order review page. Now, is that poorly designed craziness for an online shopping store or what?

I ended up closing out the order and starting all over again. When I went through the process the second time the website remembered my previous shopping cart and the quantity was now 2 items. Lucky for me that I wanted two items or I may have had a really difficult time getting back to a shopping cart with just one item.

Final order earned $108 x 8 points for 864 Priority Club points in my account. The value of the hotel points is about equivalent to the tax I paid for the make-up. Shipping was free.

If I had been on the ball I could have made the purchase on November 30 CyberMonday and received a 1,000 points online shopping bonus from Priority Club Rewards.

5 Tips to loyalty program shopping portals and shopping for points

1.       Sign in to hotel or airline program website

2.       Go to shopping portal and look for items from stores offering a combination of best price and best bonus.

3.       Carefully follow links clear through from hotel shopping entry web portal to store checkout. Using the back button or opening multiple browser windows can result in you losing credit as a hotel loyalty shopping portal buyer.

4.       Typically, I go through the hotel shopping portal and select my items for purchase, then start over again, re-enter the hotel loyalty program shopping portal and directly navigate my way to the product purchase check-out. This might be unnecessary, but I have missed out on a lot of points over the years when shopping.

5.       Keep tabs of estimated points earned and be prepared to follow-up on missing points.

Hotel Loyalty Program Shopping links

Choice Privileges Mall

Hilton HHonors Mall

Marriott Rewards Mall

Priority Club Rewards Shopping

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Ah – the contortions we go through in order to maximize our points! When I compare pricing at Amazon to BN.com to Borders and then through loyalty portals, I’ve found it helpful to open the loyalty website on a different browser (e.g. Internet Explorer vs. Firefox vs. Google Chrome). Each browser uses different “cookies” and shopping carts so I can look at prices and coupon discounts on a merchant website separately from the loyalty portal and not compromise the discount and/or points earning linkages.

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